Has there ever been a more emotionally taxing time in the 21st century than this global pandemic? For many, the answer is no. As COVID-19 continues to tear through our global infrastructure, we must reckon with a new socially isolated reality, a global economy on the verge of collapse, and a heightened sense of anxiety for even normal, everyday tasks.
Enter celebrated Bestselling psychologist, Dr. Susan David, whose Emotional Agility have never been more valuable, or more important. David was a recent guest on Maria Menounos’ daytime show Better Together w/ Maria Menounos, where she offered INCREDIBLY valuable, practical tips that we can apply to our everyday lives to heighten our emotional agility. Below are three of her best takeaways.
RECOGNIZE YOUR NEGATIVE EMOTIONS AS SIGNALS
So many self-help gurus tout the importance of repressing negative emotions so that we can create space for positive emotions like happiness, but Susan David strongly advises against repressing negative emotions. Negative emotions are an important signal that something in our life needs to be addresses or adjusted for us to step into our full selves. Just as we recognize stomach pain as a signal that it’s time to see a doctor, or the pain of a broken leg as a signal that we need to immobilize our bones with a cast, painful emotions signal just that: emotional pain. Emotional pain is an important and encouraging indication that it’s time for us to take action and make adjustments in our own lives.
IDENTIFY YOUR VALUES
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@valariekaur and I met in the @ted green room just before we gave our talks. In those jittery and frenetic few minutes together, we found an instant calm and formed a "soul sister" connection. We’ve been in touch since. I started reading Valarie's wise, compassionate, and insightful new book, #SeeNoStranger this weekend. Its message is a voice of love—a balm for our times. It’s so beautiful and necessary! I can’t wait to read more—and yet don’t want it to end. Order your copy today at the link in bio.
One of the keys to emotional agility is understanding that your negative emotions are actually strong indicators of your values, which are an important way to better develop an understanding of yourself and your personhood. When you feel angry, for example, it shows that you value you fairness and justice – and can provide a productive framework to adjust the situation that is making you angry. When you feel anxious, it shows that you value achievement, and strive to consciousnessly live your life to its full potential. When you feel envious, it shows that you recognize the achievements in a peer’s life as an achievement you’d like to work towards in your own life. By identifying your own values, you can recognize your negative emotions as puzzle pieces in a larger picture of what makes you you.
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FEELING ISN’T BEING
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We frequently struggle to label our emotions correctly when we’re in the heat of the moment. Next time you get upset, show up to what you’re feeling with strength and compassion, step out of that emotion, and take the time to correctly label it from an outside perspective. Illustration by @revelatori #EmotionalAgility
When we’re faced with challenging emotions, we’ll often say things like “I’m sad” or “I’m angry,” but Dr. Susan David says that that language reduces our personhood and negatively affects our self-worth. Instead, pivoting your language to say: “I feel sad right now” or “I’m feeling angry about this,” provides space for entire personhood. During her interview with Menounos, David elaborated on this, saying: “When you’re emotionally agile, you’re saying, ‘huh, that’s interesting. I’m FEELING sad right now.’ And then you’re able by step out of your emotion by labeling it. We own our emotions. They don’t own us. Am I defined by this sadness? No.”
Have your own outdoor social distancing ideas for a great summer? Comment them down below, and make sure to watch Better Together w/ Maria Menounos everyday on YouTube and Apple Podcasts!